The Green Bay Packers have signed Christian Kirksey to a two-year, $16 million contract, per his agency, Sportstars. Kirksey, who was released by the Cleveland Browns last week, was free to sign with any team prior to the free agent signing period.
Kirksey, 27, was a third-round draft choice out of Iowa in 2014. He did not miss a regular-season game during his first four seasons, finishing with 484 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was the Browns recipient of the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Kirksey will be reunited with Mike Pettine, who was his former head coach with the Browns (2014 and 2015) and is currently the defensive coordinator of the Packers. In his two seasons under Pettine, Kirksey had 144 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles (13 starts).
The signing of Kirksey is the latest free agent splash signing by the Packers over the past few seasons. Green Bay landed Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos during the first wave of free agency last offseason.
Green Bay's defense finished ninth in points allowed and 18th in yards allowed last season, but just 23rd against the run, allowing 15 rushing touchdowns (21st in NFL). Adding Kirksey should boost that unit, as he had 286 combined tackles between 2016 and 2017 (he played only nine games over the past two seasons with ankle, hamstring and chest injuries).
The Packers have $22,829,094 in available cap space prior to the Kirksey signing (per Over the Cap), so Green Bay will be limited in its free agent spending if it chooses not to release any players. Signing Kirksey could signal the Green Bay departure of Blake Martinez (343 tackles over past three seasons), who is set to become a free agent.